Posts in Leadership and Management
What to say when you’re caught off guard

You might get blind-sided by a project detail you are not prepared to talk about. Moments like this can make you look bad and make others doubt you.

That’s why I’m a big fan of having go-to phrases you can use in 80% of situations when you’re surprised. The benefit is you won’t have to scramble in the moment. You can relax because you know what to say, which allows you to be more present. Plus, it's an elegant way to buy yourself time.

Here what to say:

“I’m coming out of another meeting, so I'll need some time to context switch and make sure I give this the attention it deserves. Let’s set up a meeting for later this week so we can carve out time and go deep on this issue. How does that sound?”

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No lazy thinking: How to train your team to think rigorously and systematically

If you're a leader, you got to where you are because you think strategically and are killer at execution. You simply can't get very far without being good at both.

Now that you're in charge of people, though, your ability to increase impact depends on how well you manage OTHER people. You need your team to become smarter, sharper A-players.

Unfortunately, sometimes smart people (like you) accidentally traumatize their teams...

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How to design engagement triggers for your new community

Increasing engagement is a big deal for most startups and brands. You might have a presence on a channel—Instagram, Facebook, Slack, email, or your own internal platform—but do people want to show up?

The more engaged people are, the stickier your product is, and the more reason they want to stay. The longer a customer stays, the more chances you have to ultimately make a sale. But without a strategy for increasing engagement, digital communities can easily fizzle out. This leaves you panicking for ways to get people to come back, which is not a fun spot to be in.

If you're a co-founders or marketer, here are the key elements of maintaining (and growing) community participation.

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How to grow a community from 0 to 2,000+ active alumni

Digital communities... Everyone seems to be talking about them.

At the altMBA, I had the privilege of building our community from scratch to 2,000+ alumni. You might have read that a community can increase engagement, build a moat around your product, and lower your cost of customer acquisition over time. All of that can be true.

You might be thinking, I'm sold. Can I skip the strategy and go straight to building my community? I want to start sending out Slack invites!

But wait:

First, having a Slack room does not equal a community. (That’s a topic for another post...) Second, you can skip straight to execution, but you might end up building the wrong thing. You could invest several months and thousands of dollars into a digital community that no one wants to be part of.

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Technical leaders make these 3 common storytelling mistakes

I recently had the privilege of giving a talk for Backstage Capital and their amazing early-stage portfolio companies. My talk was called “Storytelling for Technical Founders” and I shared how technical leaders can tell better stories.

Here are a few common mistakes and takeaways:

1. Over-reliance on technical details

Real-life is non-linear, but stories are linear. Therefore, stories are always a simplification.

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Your team should be getting 20% smarter every year [ActiveCampaign podcast]

Whether you're a changemaker within an organization, or a startup CEO running your own company, your ability to do great work is directly tied to your team's performance.

You realized this when you transitioned from an individual contributor to a people manager. But it's likely a lesson you're constantly reminded of.

Almost every week, I hear a founder say, "I'm the bottleneck for everything. How do I get my team to be as smart as I am?”

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Make Maps, Don't Just Follow Them [Accidental Creative podcast]

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Accidental Creative podcast hosted by bestselling author Todd Henry.

Our conversation is relevant if you're a creative, people manager, founder, intrapreneur, or change agent building something new.

On the episode, we dive deeper into:

+ How to embrace map-making as your core mode of operation
+ How to present your ideas so that others can receive them
+ Why it’s important to have a “spiky” point of view

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Speak up before the train crashes

I'm not good at holding my tongue when I sense that a train wreck might happen. If you've tried speaking up before, and no one listened, it's tempting to want to teach them a lesson.

Okay fine, well the train will crash. THEN they'll see why they should have listened to me all along...

You don't get to take the moral high ground there. If you sense that something might be wrong, speak up before it's too late.

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